Bespoke Perfumery

Bespoke Perfumery


Givaudan Perfumery

Fragrance articles are always an exciting find, especially when they cover in depth topics. The most current edition of the French weekly Le Point (English version) arrived last weekend and to my surprise there were several pages devoted to the topic of bespoke perfumery. For those of you French readers unfamiliar with the publication, I have enclosed a link to Le Point below.

A bespoke fragrance, much like any bespoke creation, is developed with the individual tastes of the intended wearer in mind. While the concept of bespoke perfumery has been around for hundreds of years, executed perhaps most successfully by Guerlain, newer houses and individual perfumers are offering this ultimate luxury to those lucky few who can afford it (prices range anywhere from $12,000 to $45,000, though I have heard of people paying more).

The article focuses on Francis Kurdjian, Mathilde Laurent and Thierry Wasser, each of whom dedicate time to this extreme niche creation. The process in itself sounds memorable and luxurious, offering the opportunity to meet with the perfumer personally in order to create an olfactory profile. Personal scent preferences and olfactory memories are discussed and of course the process involves lots and lots of sampling to narrow down genres and individual notes.

While I will not likely be commissioning a bespoke fragrance for myself any time soon, I love the idea of having a perfume created solely for one individual, reflecting the many complexities and passions of scent. While it will certainly be profitable for the fragrance companies, it does bring back some of the allure of traditional perfumery, exploring the art rather than the commercialism.

Les Néréides – Patchouli Antique

Les Néréides – Patchouli Antique


Perfumistas are nothing if not passionate. After all, it takes considerable dedication to be a perfume collector, especially when your beloved fragrances are niche or worse – discontinued. While each certainly possesses her favorite scent or fragrance genre, there are those notes which are certain to provoke impassioned responses.

Patchouli is among the more polarizing scents. It offends on a wide range – those who dislike its sharp medicinal qualities, as well as those who cannot escape its hippie era associations. For those of us who adore patchouli however it is often these very qualities we find irresistible. While some fragrances use patchouli sparingly to impart a woody, slightly dusty quality to balance a fragrance, Patchouli Antique is more a study in patchouli.

Patchouli Antique starts off with a slightly green medicinal tang, the perfect introduction to the rich, woody warmth of patchouli. The aptly named Patchouli Antique calls to mind the deep aroma of damp earth and musky dustiness, not unlike unearthing a treasure trove of antique books in a dark attic.

The fragrance softens and mellows like a warm wooly shawl thanks to a hint of vanilla and musk, which play perfectly on patchouli’s hints of chocolate. Truth be told, I am personally not a fan of vanilla in fragrances but in the case of Patchouli Antique it serves to smooth over the slightly bitter herbal beginning in a manner reminiscent of Shalimar, rendering the fragrances as warm and enveloping as a soft robe.

When compared with Chanel’s Coromandel or Serge Luten’s Borneo 1834, both of which are patchouli powerhouses, Patchouli Antique is more one-dimensional. It is a fairly close rendition of the type of high quality patchouli oil you can find in a specialty store, but with a calming, powdery warmth in the final notes.

Notes: Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk

Estée Lauder – Aliage

Estée Lauder – Aliage

aliage Fragrance Ad2

Mention high perfumery and everyone immediately thinks of the long history of French fragrances as the height of sophistication. But did you know that stateside we have several fragrances executed in the French style which hold their own when compared to their sisters across the pond?

I have been having a love affair with American perfumery recently, specifically those which are a nod to the French classics. Unfortunately, these suffer the same fate as their French sisters and many have been stripped of their former glory, though some are still readily available in acceptable forms.

Aliage is one such of these gems. Launched in 1972 and hailed by Estée Lauder as the first “sports fragrance”, it was marketed via photos depicting the sumptuous Estée Lauder lifestyle. Tennis at the club, light hikes through rolling hills and a few laps in the pool – the smell of sporty sophistication and leisure, the sense of occupied idleness that only money can provide. Aliage is a bold green fragrance, with references to many of the great French classics. As a chypre rounded by a peach note, it is like a bridge between the beauties of Chanel No 19 and Mitsouko, marrying elements of each into a gorgeous new creation.

Aliage Fragrance Ad

The opening is dry, bitter and sharp but the strong herbal tones mellow over time and are softened by the roundness of peach. The fragrance has a dry, Champagne-like quality, which keeps the peach element dry as silk, rather different than the fullness of Champagne’s peach chypre.

This dry quality is due in part to an abundance of galbanum, which gives the fragrance its strong green impression. In fact, the quality of the galbanum in my vintage bottle is excellent, a definite reference to the sharpness of Chanel 19 and Vent Vert. The galbanum’s green force is supported in the drydown by subtle notes of earthy pine, vetiver and thyme, which carry on the outdoors theme.

The base is a gorgeous deep blend of oakmoss and musk with a hint of myrrh, lending the fragrance a delicious depth often found only in the French classics, though Aliage is drawn in bolder, broader strokes than many of its French sisters.

Aliage can still be found today in a relatively similar form, though it has been toned down a bit due to regulations on materials, and the vintage version makes an appearance every now and then. For those of us who have explored French perfumery to its fullness but still want more, Aliage (sometimes found under the name Alliage) hits the spot.

Notes: Peach, Green Notes, Jasmin, Rosewood, Pine, Thyme, Galbanum, Vetiver, Myrrh, Musk, Oakmoss